Bloomington, Ind. – For one night only, JaMarcus Ellis wants to be the one on the receiving end on the basketball court.
The Chicago native's journey to Division I basketball will come to a successful conclusion tonight when the Hoosiers kick off the 2007-08 season with Hoosier Hysteria. It's been a trip littered with twists and turns, taking him from Westinghouse H.S. to prep school to junior college and finally to Assembly Hall.
Considering the prolonged wait, Ellis wouldn't mind it too much if IU basketball fans give him a warm – and deafening - greeting.
"I'm ready for (Hoosier Hysteria) because I want to see how loud this place gets," Ellis said. "I'm waiting on it, and I want them to give it to me as soon as I step on the court."
Once that initial ovation dies down, Ellis will return to his familiar role of being the one who's looking to help others.
While he doesn't figure to be the Hoosiers' starting point guard, he will be someone who's playing a great deal on the wing and someone who will have his hands on the ball when IU is in transition.
And when he does have the ball in his hands, he's thinking about others, not himself.
"He's probably the most unselfish person on this team," said senior D.J. White. "All he wants to do is pass the ball. That's what he loves to do."
While most of tonight's on-lookers have yet to see what this 6'5", 200-pounder can do, they'll quickly find out his strength is that there isn't a whole lot of things that he can't do. From rebounding to passing the ball to scoring in transition, Ellis' versatility is his greatest attribute.
It was never more apparent than a year ago, when he averaged 17.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists at Chipola (Fla.) Junior College, helping his team to a 33-3 record and a runner-up finish in the National Junior College Tournament.
Perhaps the only thing lacking from his repertoire is a degree of selfishness, which is a good thing for an IU team that has designs on competing for a Big Ten Championship and a deep run in the NCAA tourney.
"My biggest thing for this team is playing my role as far as rebounding, making sure D.J. (White) and E.J. (Eric Gordon) get more touches," Ellis said. "Be more of a team player…anything Coach Sampson wants me to do, will be done."
That attitude is why the reigning National Junior College Player of the Year figures to be a significant contributor and likely starter this season. With big-time scorers such as Eric Gordon and D.J. White on the court, Ellis might not light up the scoreboard, but he'll be every bit as important to the Hoosiers' success.
He's the one talking about getting 50/50 balls, making hustle plays, and doing the dirty work on the basketball court.
He's also the one talking about big things for this team by the time March rolls around.
"I'm looking forward to this," Ellis said. "Indiana is a big state for basketball, especially Bloomington. The Hoosiers, five championships, and I'm looking forward to winning a sixth one this season."
Ellis Looking For Warm Welcome
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